Communicative Research

The Communicative perspective, which incorporates, among others, contributions from phenomenology (Schütz & Luckmann, 1977/1973), constructivism (Berger & Luckmann, 1995/1966), symbolic interactionism (Mead, 1990/1934), ethnomethodology (Garfinkel, 1986), dramaturgy (Goffman, 1981/1959) and, more recently, communicative action (Habermas, 1987/1981), dialogic action (Freire, 1970, 1997/1995) and dialogic learning (Flecha, 1997), asserts that natural reality exists in the external world independently of the subject’s mind; regarding social reality, it considers it to be socially constructed and dependent on the meanings we attribute to it through the definitions we as actors ascribe to it and through our interactions. S ocial interaction, agreements are emphasised, not objectivity or the construction of meanings. A table is a table, not because it is so objectively, or because we have given it a socially constructed meaning, but because at some point we agreed on it; it will no longer be a table the day we decide it is not, because it is through consensus that we attribute meaning intersubjectively.

In accordance with this perspective, knowledge should never be the domain of the “experts”, whether we refer to the scientific community or the research team. This is the case with the scientific community because, the same as with other social institutions, its survival depends on its democratization, and in the case of researchers, because objectivity and rigor of the analysis depends to a large degree on intersubjectivity. With this, we aim to carry out a defence of rationality and maintain hope for transformation and utopia, disassociating from theories that reject the possibility of scientific knowledge of reality ( scepticism, epistemological and moral relativism, intellectual nihilism ), because it is perfectly legitimate to provide a path that leads to scientific truth, which facilitates proposing new theories and perspectives that offer possibilities for understanding social dynamics and their transformation.

We consider four different perspectives: the positivist, constructivist, socio-critical and communicative. We see them as “ideal types”, knowing that there are many conceptions that are between one or the other and/or do not correspond completely to the model of the “pure” conception (for example, social constructivism and constructivism both oppose objectivism but, taking one more step forward social constructivism declares that ideas and concepts are generated through social exchange and mediated by language). In each of these four conceptions we examine various dimensions, although we focus on three that are key: ontological, that is the most transcendental in terms of the nature of reality (how we conceive of reality); epistemological, which deals with the theories of knowledge (how we know reality); and the methodological dimension that refers to how we proceed when we research, and how we justify and legitimate the methods and techniques that we use to research.

We study each dimension looking at the approaches they offer with respect to the four conceptions. For purposes of simplification, we summarize the information in a table, which contains the different considerations. The aim is to demonstrate the relationship between the distinct conceptions and each of the three key dimensions, as well as with other issues (rationality, social orientation, relationship subject/object…) that are essential in social research. We know that social research is very complex and that the table is a simplification of its dimensions, perspectives and conceptions, but its utility lies precisely in providing an overall and orientational vision that serves to situate the communicative perspective in relation to the rest of the perspectives.

Font: Gómez, J., Latorre A., Sánchez M., Flecha R. (2006): Metodología Comunicativa Crítica. Barcelona: Hipatia Editorial.

Comments are closed.

Passeig de la Vall d'Hebron, 171. 08035 Barcelona
Telf. 00 34 93 403 51 64 [email protected]